Sr. Marcia Hall of the Oblate Sisters of Providence talks about why a film highlighting the experiences of young black religious is necessary and the surprising things she's learned as first-time film producer.
The lack of women members of the religious congregation had drawn special scrutiny in recent years, as Vatican statistics estimate that there are about four times as many women in Catholic religious orders compared to men. Francis' appointments for the religious congregation, which is formally named the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, were announced July 8.
After five years serving 10 U.S. dioceses with burgeoning Latino populations, 36 sisters have graduated from the U.S.-Latin American Sisters Exchange Program. They're returning home with Boston College degrees, English skills, and pastoral experience. And for those U.S. dioceses, the sisters leave behind ministries they have built and local leaders they have trained to keep those ministries sustainable.
Pope Francis named six superiors of women's religious orders and a consecrated laywoman to be full members of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Previously, the members had all been men.
Horizons - It's only natural for us to rejoice together, too. It's an element of our vocation. Francis tells us, "Wherever consecrated people are, there is always joy!" After the Giving Voice gathering ended and I reflected on the joy I experienced with other sisters, I was reminded of a game of catch.
After I'd achieved a degree of financial comfort, I remember the shock when I first encountered children in a "poorer" area of the country who couldn't afford shoes, even meals. That may have been the first stirrings of the God-seed.
At a recent workshop on trends in child care, I was particularly interested in a collaborative of the Association of Religious in Uganda in response to their government's 2016 ruling that homes for children need a social worker on staff, to have established child-protection policies, and to meet certain child-care standards.
In a property transfer they're calling "A Gift of the Heart to the Heart," the sisters hope their property, which they have owned for 142 years, will help their schools continue to thrive and expand. The move, however, is not without its sadness, "This is where we were all formed; this is where we started. We all thought we'd eventually come back full circle," said Sr. Janet Peterworth, president of the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville.
Lay-led organizations offer working models at every level from international to parish. The most illuminating model I've seen is the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and its congregations – all lay women like me. Very quietly, with no spotlights, they've been evolving innovative ways to be a community of communities since the 1960s.
Beyond originally requesting the creation of the women deacons commission, the International Union of Superiors General has pressed for greater involvement of women religious in synods of bishops and in the workings of the Vatican office that oversees the world's religious orders. Claretian Missionary Sr. Jolanda Kafka, UISG's new president, said she believed that such advocacy for women's leadership had now become obligatory for her organization, which represents some 450,000 sisters and nuns worldwide.
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